Pete sat down for another edition of ‘On the Couch’ and this time with the team from Maslow, to find out where the idea for their startup came from and how the accelerator experience has been during isolation.
Check out some of the key takeouts from this interview with Andrew, Nitin, Ilya and Steve…
Can you tell us a little bit about where the idea for Maslow came from?
Andrew: We started Maslow in response to something that happened to a friend of mine and Nitin’s, named ‘Kevin’. He was riding his bike and he slipped, hit his head and suffered a traumatic injury. So he spent nine months in rehab hospital but it was when he was discharged that we started seeing some of the interesting things happening around not knowing what to do at home, not knowing how to manage and deal with large care teams and not knowing where he was at with his rehabilitation. So we really looked at that from the perspective of Nitin coming from a therapy background and myself coming from a product design background and decided that this wasn’t good enough and there are ways to address these issues using technology. So we started to explore that, began to connect with a lot of other people that have had similar experiences and that’s where Maslow was born.
Steve, I know that you joined the team after Andrew and Nitin. Can you tell us how you met and what you’ve done since joining the team?
Steve: I met Andrew and Nitin shortly after I was discharged from the hospital. Soon after being discharged, I began to do a lot of accessibility and disability ambassador work for Apple speaking about the social, workplace and independent living benefits of technology such as the Apple Homekit for people with spinal cord injuries like myself. So following one of my speaking engagements I met Andrew and Nitin and I soon after started working with them on how Maslow could look to improve the experience of people with spinal cord injury in a positive way.
Nitin, I know you come from more of a clinical background, can you tell us about your experience and what you’re bringing to the team?
Nitin: So I was working as an occupational therapist for the last six years or so and I mainly work in tertiary acute hospitals and rehab hospitals. It was super rewarding to be able to make a positive change and help people in their recovery. But one of the big challenges I faced at the time was that all this education that we were giving to people verbally, was quickly forgotten. We’d be giving patients programs to be completed at home and then two to six weeks later they’re back in the hospital with the same issues. The biggest issue here was that although we were doing a great job in the hospital, once patients leave we’ve got no support or control in the community. Most of these patients had chronic medical conditions or disabilities that really needed to be looked after and so I began to question if there was a better way to approach rehab. During my time as an OT I bumped into Andrew and Ilya and our common ground was Kevin, so we were talking about some of the solutions to these issues from a technology point of view that could support someone like Kevin during his rehabilitation and we started to think about what we could do. This quickly expanded further and we began looking at what we could do for all of the other young people that had a chronic condition or a traumatic injury, and that’s how I joined the Maslow team.
How have you found the Remarkable program so far and do you have any highlights?
Nitin: When we started Maslow we were kind of in our own silo and there was a bit of pressure because we were trying to solve a significant problem. However, since starting with Remarkable we’ve met a bunch of startups focusing on similar problems within their own spaces that focus on social impact or disability and it kind of normalises what we’re doing and therefore alleviates some of that pressure. It’s also great to be able to go back and forth with ideas between the cohort, this gives us the encouragement to go forward with our own project.
Ilya: I think going through Remarkable has given us access to a pool of high-calibre mentors that have dedicated their time to support us through the program and their advice and mentorship has allowed us to grow a business and as a team.
Steve: The highlight for me was the Stakeholder and Investor night. I think that was pretty amazing that despite the fact that we’re going through this huge pandemic and it’s been such a challenging time to operate events we were still able to all have such an amazing networking opportunity online and it was still a really huge success.
How have you found working remotely and trying to build a startup during isolation?
Ilya: I found that it all comes down to having a healthy lifestyle full of physical and mental health-conscious habits and having the right attitude towards your work, especially when you work as a team. We’ve been keeping each other accountable making sure that each one of us feels the love and support that you really need in this situation. I guess the other part piece of that is using the right tools for the right job so things like Trello and Airtable are perfect for our organisation because it allows us to focus on the right things to make sure that we’re solving the right problems.
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
Andrew: Some of the positive impacts we’re seeing within the Maslow community is that people can access rehab at home, they’re saving time managing carers and saving time admining their life. We want to see these positive impacts everywhere. We want everyone in the world that’s living with paralysis or that’s living with high care needs to be able to experience these benefits and on the other side of that, we want to change the way that therapy’s delivered. So really focusing on a model that builds in-home supports rather than one that relies upon physical consultations because as we’ve seen throughout this lockdown that’s going to need to become the new normal for people to become self-sufficient and our role in that is we want to be the well-being tool of choice for people living with paralysis and people living with care needs globally.
Steve, can you tell us more about the half-marathon you’re training for and what fundraiser you are supporting?
Steve: During the lockdown, I luckily meet a personal trainer who could continue their services and I saw an opportunity to use my time to set some physical goals because I’m looking at returning to driving and using a hand cycle to get out and about and do some more social stuff post-COVID-19. So I set a goal to be able to complete a half marathon ski and then decided to turn it into a fundraising opportunity for some work the Griffith University are doing around olfactory cells and spinal cord regeneration after injury. I want to say thanks for the support that both my team members and also the team at Remarkable have shown for my training and fundraiser.